Board and Management
Kathy Olsen is a director of web development company Squiz New Zealand and Sydney-based open source software developers Squiz Labs. Actively involved with a number of community organisations including the Sustainable Business Network, the Wellington Disability Resource Group and the Changemakers Forum for Refugees, Kathy has a keen interest in using technology for social justice issues. She is particularly interested in digital inclusion as she sees access to information as having a key role in developing an equitable society.
Karen Fraser Payne is a founding Touch Compass trustee, former chair, and now General Manager of the company. She is also a trustee of Hohepa Auckland. Karen has over 20 years experience in the communications and tourism industries and is an accredited communications practitioner. Previously working as the Private Secretary of Tourism to the Prime Minister RT Hon John Key and Associate Minister of Tourism Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, as well as former Minister of Tourism Hon Damien O’Connor, Karen has a wealth of experience in dealing with policy. Karen has both a professional and personal interest in the work Touch Compass is doing as she has a daughter who has a disability.
Catherine founded Touch Compass in 1997. Today she is the company’s Artistic Director, known for her pioneering work in both Inclusive Dance and Contact Improvisation in New Zealand. Catherine is an integral part of the company, also working as a dancer, teacher and choreographer. She was recently awarded a Creative New Zealand Choreographic Fellowship to research aerial bungee and contact improvisation; studying with Strings Attached from Sydney, with plans to train with Wired Aerial Theatre in Liverpool. Catherine has danced with LIMBS Dance Company and Vivienne Newport in Germany. She has taught Contact Improvisation and contemporary dance at UNITEC School of Performing and Screen Arts, New Zealand School of Dance and University of Otago School of Physical Education – to name just a few.
In 2012 was interviewed for Cultural Icons – Conversations with Iconic People. Watch the interview here:
Rebecca Collins joined Touch Compass as a trustee in early 2015, bringing with her five years of experience as a trust lawyer. A keen supporter and participant in the arts, she has made a number of films and documentaries. Rebecca joined Touch Compass as she strongly believes in the company’s goal of challenging perceptions of disability.
An educationalist, with an MA in Education Studies, Alex brings with her a wealth of experience in the disability policy and research sectors. She was appointed a trustee member in early 2015, but has been with Touch Compass in various capacities for many years. Alex has been an active part of Touch Compass subsidiary WIDance (Wellington Integrated Dance) since 2010; participated in various Touch Compass workshops; provides admin and dancer support and also researches funding opportunities and writes grant applications.
Juliet takes care of Touch Compass’s finance administration – and all kinds of other things besides. She joined the company in 2013.
A longstanding and highly esteemed member of New Zealand’s dance community, Sue Cheesman is a dance teacher, choreographer and researcher. Currently the Senior Lecturer in Dance Education at the University of Waikato, Sue is also the Senior Tutor for Touch Compass’s Encompass community education programme. Sue gets great satisfaction from applying her skills to the development of inclusive dance in New Zealand – and particularly from helping Touch Compass achieve its goal of challenging what dance is and who can do it.
Award-winning professional dancer Liz Kirk has been teaching both contemporary and classic dance styles for 20 years. She particularly enjoys dispelling the myth of the ballerina, believing that anyone can learn and enjoy this beautifully refined technique. Liz gets great satisfaction from applying her attitude to and knowledge of inclusive dance to her work with Touch Compass, which she joined in 2013.
Rebecca joined Touch Compass in 2013 as the Youth Tutor, planning and facilitating inclusive classes for dancers ages 13-24. She enjoys encouraging everyone to try dance, learn new skills, develop relationships and connections and, most of all, have fun. Rebecca also revels in leading her students to more complex skill development and performance opportunities.
Rebecca trained with Christchurch’s Hagley Dance Company before gaining a Bachelor of Performing Screen Arts from Unitec. She has also completed a range of post graduate studies in Special Education and Health Sciences (Creative Expressive Therapies). In 2014 she completed a Master of Creative and Performing Arts in Dance Studies from Auckland University.
Rebecca says she gets many rewards from her work with Touch Compass, the most significant being “the company holds many of the values that are important to me in dance and life”.
Romola approaches every project creatively, collaboratively and with the secret knowledge that coaxing clever people into exceeding a brief is where the magic lies. She has designed and produced all kinds of multi and mixed-media works – including Touch Compass’s acclaimed DanceBox series.